The music industry dances to the beat of TV revenue


It was through pure serendipity that Ed Robertson wrote the Barenaked Ladies’s largest tune. After improvising a song about the world’s origins at a Los Angeles concert last decade, he discovered a few big-shot TV manufacturers were there. Their titles were Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady and they had been dreaming up a series about physicists.

They had a theme song and approached the ring. Mr. Robertson, on holiday, composed a 28-second draft in the shower at his cabin, soon finalizing and recording it. The Big Bang Theory made its debut in September, 2007. The series has been one of television’s most-watched for a decade and, regardless of the success of hits like If I Had $1,000,000 and One Week, Mr. Robertson says the show’s title song has been the most popular and financially rewarding in his group nearly 30-year livelihood.

“Film and television have always been a fantastic addition to what you can do,” Mr. Robertson says in the cabin where he composed the tune. “I guess it is just becoming a bigger slice of the pie — if a band can land a placement in television or film, based on the level the ring’s at, it could represent a substantial portion of their earnings”

Toronto’s Barenaked Ladies first blew up in the 1990s, when CDs were king. But music sales And streaming services including Spotify have substituted some, but not nearly all, of the revenue. Bands like Mr. Robertson’s have made up for lost earnings in large part by vacationing. As the fall TV season starts — such as The Big Bang Theory’s season premiere later this month — getting music onto a TV show, commercial or film is becoming an increasingly enticing revenue flow for musicians as well as the companies that back them.

Since streaming-video platforms keep adding fresh, original shows and movies in addition to conventional broadcast channels, the chances to license music increase also. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the recorded music business’s , reports that in 2016 Canada earned $7.8-million (U.S.) in “synchronization” earnings for labels and artists from using music in TV, film, advertisements and video games.

While this represents less than 1 percent of total revenue, it is a 32-per-cent increase over the preceding year, signalling growing attention for records’ revenue stream. Meanwhile, SOCAN — that collects royalties for songwriters and music publishers in Canada — says more than a third of all of its royalty revenue comes from TV sources.

The music industry is taking advantage of the trend on almost all fronts. Each year, for example, Canadian business teams bring together film and TV music supervisors for a “Canadian Music CafĂ©” during the Toronto International Film Festival. After this month, music managers from shows like Atlanta and movies like The Enormous Sick will gather to watch performances by artists such as Keshia ChantĂ© and Lido Pimienta.

“It is about building relationships with publishers to get their entire catalogues,” states Margaret McGuffin, executive director of the Canadian Music Publishers Association, which can help run the function.

Since launching in 2005, Montreal’s Third Side Music is now an expert in synchronizing and licensing music for tv, movie and trailers and recently opened a permanent Los Angeles office to better agent relationships.

“What started out as something that is natural in the film-making procedure — a manager has a vision and a song fits that vision — has turned into a really lucrative area for earnings in the audio business,” says Natalie Cervelli, Third Side’s head of creative licensing, advertisements and trailers. “Album sales are down nd they are beginning to see it is a fantastic place for exposure for those musicians.”

Third Side has assisted Juno-nominated Toronto digital band Blitz//Berlin get music on the series Killjoys, along with trailers for The Girl on the Train and 50 Shades Darker. The group members have linked to punk — a genre that has long attempted to distance itself from “selling out” artwork by licensing it, especially with advertising. But member Martin Macphail claims that the band’s trailer work has helped create music a fulltime effort.

“It has been quite the career boost,” Mr. Macphail states. “There is still a line” when it comes to jobs the ring takes, but working in the movie world “feels more like a collaborative artistic procedure.”

Sometimes collaboration can bring massive returns. Miranda Mulholland points to Chris Isaak’s song Wicked Game, which was slow to gain popularity until David Lynch’s 1990 movie Wild at Heart made it a hit.

Hiring a representative to receive your music on film and TV can be costly, says Ms. Mulholland, a fiddler and label owner — but she still does it, since when a tune gets put, “it can make a massive difference” financially.

The planet is even shifting for men and women who look scores for film and TV. Ari Posner, who’s worked on shows such as Anne, X Company, and Flashpoint, states that upfront fees for scoring work have been decreasing, but that royalty obligations, such as through SOCAN, have retained his livelihood sustainable.

Mr. Robertson is thankful for what the Big Bang Theory motif has done for the Barenaked Ladies’s career. “I think it’s introduced the band to a whole new creation,” he says.

The group has always been open to music placements — One Week appeared in several movies and a commercial — but he admits that the science sitcom theme came as a stroke of fortune. ” The Big Bang Theory comes on the heels of many, many at-bats.”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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